May 27, 2010

Nepeta Cataria...The Science Behind Catnip

Ever wonder how catnip works? Dr. Ramona Turner tells us in an article that appeared in Scientific American:

Nepetalactone, one of catnip's volatile oils, enters the cat's nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. These cells, in turn, provoke a response in neurons in the olfactory bulb, which project to several brain regions including the amygdala ...and the hypothalamus...The amygdala integrates the information flow from the olfactory bulb cells and projects to areas governing behavior responses. The hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses through the pituitary gland...the cat essentially reacts to an artificial cat pheromone.

WHAT?!? I'm pretty sure that is just a fancy way of saying it makes a cat go nuts, bonkers, berserk, and a little kooky. Here is my studio assistant, Buttonwillow, doing a little scientific research of her own with a new catnip toy:

Apparently there are a number of unfortunate felines in the world who are not susceptible to the allure of catnip. Scientists estimate that as many as 25 percent of all cats have no reaction whatsoever to its intoxicating effect.

We'd like to do our own research to verify or debunk this startling number of cats who may be immune to catnip. Please take the Very Scientific Poll in the top right corner of this blog to help advance Cat Science. You may enter an answer for each of your cats. Thank you for participating!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Three of my cats enjoy it and like to eat it. (Cecil, Billy, & Boo Boo)it makes them playful. I grow fresh catnip, but they also like it dried. One (Angel) has no interest in it at all.
cat lady Rose